Snap-front Shirts

Two is a coincidence, three is a collection. -Me

Well alrighty then, kiddies, gather ’round and let me tell you ’bout a little girl who never wanted to dress like a cowboy until some time late in high school when she HAD to have herself a pair of cowboy boots. And by “have herself,” I mean “beg for a pair for Christmas.” I still remember ’em: Dan Post boots, in black leather. Nothing fancy, which, even then, I was disappointed by. But still, good boots of my very own. And for that, I was pleased. They were joined shortly thereafter by a pair of Larry Mahan lizard-skin boots, very graciously donated to me by my friend Winston, a real, live Texan. They were too small for him, and too big for me. My heels would bleed from rubbing around inside those boots, and the lizard was cracking, and the soles were separating, and I was in no financial position to do anything about it.

Actually, even before the boots, I had a t-shirt on which was printed an old photo of a line of cowgirls, real buckaroo rodeo gals, from maybe the early ’30s. Wonderful, broad-brimmed hats.

I’m not sure at what point I decided that I wanted to be Dale Evans. I loved Nudie‘s work, and I’d wanted majorette boots since I was a tiny little thing, so I guess it was a natural progression. I bought my first leather-and-concho belt in Kansas in 1995 or ’96, and my first fancified snap-front shirt in… shoot. I don’t remember. It’s been a while.

Click on the photo to take a look at the collection.

3361177191_bcd413a140_m1

Dim-Out Anklets

Hi! Remember me? I used to post 5 days a week. Now I seem to post twice a month. It’s something I will try to get better about. I think perhaps I need to get out of the house more.

Okay, so if you know me at all, you know that I collect, among other things, vintage clothing. Always have. Well, as long as I’ve had money to spend, I have. My mom had a beautiful, I’d guess late-1800s jacket that I used to adore as a girl. It was too fragile to atually wear out, but I would put it on, and wonder about how to fix the worn and frayed bits. I have no idea what ever happened to it, or to the gorgeous, ’40s-era ivory satin wedding dress (tea-length, therefore not a gown) that I bought on Canal Street in NYC back in 1990. I spray-painted a pair of pumps to match. I kid you not.

All of the collecting that I’ve done over the years has been with a huge amount of luck, and a small understanding of what it is I’m looking for. I recognize silhouettes and colors and fabrics from the photos I’ve always admired, and as a graphic designer, I can guesstimate an era by the typeface used on the label, but I’ve never done any serious studying. I could be wrong a lot of the time. In fact, I’m sure that I am. So from time to time, I do a little online hunting to brush up and maybe learn a thing or two.

This morning, I was scouring the LIFE archives on Google Images (boundless thanks to Ryan Cochran over at The Jalopy Journal for pointing me there). The image search feature is capped at 200 matches, so I kept finessing my keywords based on intriguing hits. Some magical combination of words let me to a series of photos of a woman’s ankles, wrapped in a variety of large white cuffs. There was a mention of “dim-out fashions.” Of course, I know what a dim-out is, but it inspired a fashion trend? And what on earth could it have to do with these giant anklets? My internal research alarm was buzzing madly, so I went about finding out.

If there is an online archive of LIFE articles, I don’t know about it and can’t find it. I know that these photos accompanied an article that ran in the March 22, 1943 issue. And while I couldn’t find a LIFE archive, I sure know where to find the New York Times archive. On January 16th of 1943, the Times ran an article which explained,

White anklets, which would make New York women pedestrians visible to motorists 100 feet away on the city’s dimmed-out streets, were suggested yesterday by the Public Safety section of the Greater New York Safety Council as part of a five-point program to reduce the mounting number of fatal traffic accidents here.

Ah-ha! Now I get it! There’s also a mention of “college girls” being asked to “help out” which only strengthens my belief that the entire concept was thought up by a bunch of ankle fetishists. I mean, c’mon. Take a look at these photos.

Mrs. Blandings

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is not my favorite movie. It’s not included in my admittedly small personal library. But there is one scene which, due in no small part to the nature of my “day job,” is very near and dear to my heart.

Jim Blandings, feeling the constraits of a small, New York City apartment on his growing young family, decides to move them all to a more spacious spread in rural Connecticut. Jim’s wife, Muriel, is in charge of the decorating.

In my favorite scene, Muriel Blandings is discussing with the painter her color choices for the walls, as workers scurry about in the background. This is the dialog between Mrs. Blandings, the painting contractor, Mr. PeDelford, and his painter, Charlie:

Mrs. Blandings – Now, Mr. PeDelford, we’ll discuss painting.

Mr. PeDelford – Okay.

Mrs. Blandings – I had some samples. Here we are. Now, first, the living room. I want it to be a soft green. Not as blue-green as a robin’s egg.

Mr. PeDelford – No.

Mrs. Blandings – But not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow. But don’t let whoever does it get it too blue.

Mr. PeDelford – No.

Mrs. Blandings – It should be a sort of grayish yellow-green. Now the dining room, I’d like yellow. Not just yellow. A very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshiny. I tell you, if you’ll send one of your workmen to the grocer for a pound of their best butter and match that exactly, you can’t go wrong.

This is the paper we’ll use in the hall. It’s flowered. But I don’t want the ceiling to match any colors of the flowers. There are some little dots in the background, and it’s these dots I want you to match. Not the little greenish dot near the hollyhock leaf, but the little bluish dot between the rosebud and the delphinium blossom. Is that clear? Now, the kitchen’s to be white. Not a cold, antiseptic, hospital white.

Mr. PeDelford – No.

Mrs. Blandings – A little warmer, but still, not to suggest any other color but white. Now, for the powder room in here, I want you to match this thread. And don’t lose it. It’s the only spool I have and I had an awful time finding it. As you can see, it’s practically an apple red. Somewhere between a healthy Winesap and an unripened Jonathan. Oh, excuse me. (leaves to speak to another contractor)

Mr. PeDelford – You got that, Charlie?

Charlie – Red, green, blue, yellow, white.

On every one of the press checks I go to, it’s my job to KNOW color. I have been playing with Color-Aid swatches and Pantone books since I was a toddler. So, when I order a RED dress from eBay and it shows up RUBY, don’t think I won’t say something. When my beautiful, Stealth Gray Pearl car is repainted some custom mix that a lazy painter thought would be close enough… it isn’t. When my Persimmon and Periwinkle tattoo comes out Persimmon and Blue, I’m going to bitch about it. The differences might be subtle to most people, but to me, it’s like night and day. This isn’t to say that I’m GOOD at color. If I don’t have my swatch in front of me, it can be a nightmare for me to match it. Some folks have a real knack for putting a color to memory, but I’m the sort who is STILL trying to find “the right pink” to match a dress I bought a year ago. And while, in many cases, “close enough” is, it isn’t where that dress is concerned. In this case, I’m trying to learn a lesson oft repeated to me by my friend Mary Jo: “It doesn’t have to match, it just has to go.” (Meanwhile, people stop me on the street when I’m “daring” enough to wear yellow shoes with an all black-and-white outfit.)

So, what goes with this lovely new vintage number that I brought home, again at half-price, from the thrift store yesterday? It’s what I’d call a Sky Blue; not as green as a Robin’s Egg…

As usual, more info if you follow the link.